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Comerica Bank: Greater Houston To Lose At Least 30,000 More Jobs By Summer 2016

Low oil prices are already hurting the region’s construction activity. Retail may soon follow.

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Comerica Bank has issued a fresh watch notice for Greater Houston, as low oil prices affect more and more of the region's economy. The Dallas-based bank is projecting the Houston metro area will lose at least 30,000 more jobs between now and the second quarter of 2016.

"I think the ongoing and lagged effect of lower energy prices are probably going to catch up to the Houston economy here, as we turn the corner into the first half of next year," says Robert Dye, Comerica's chief economist.

The region has already experienced a slowdown in office construction, with new projects down by a third compared to a year ago.

Dye says housing starts are likely to follow suit. He also expects new petrochemical construction to tail off, in response to weaker demand from China.

"And there's certainly a chilling effect on discretionary or retail [spending]," Dye says. "I'm sure that auto dealers are looking very closely at their customer base and seeing how healthy it is."

Dye says there is one factor that will help buffer Houston from the worst effects of the energy downturn. The sheer number of people that have moved to the region in recent years create an increased demand for services, particularly education and health care.